After the dry, parched landscape left behind by too many days of no rain, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is well on its way to once again serving as a haven for migrating waterfowl and other wildlife.
A visit to the refuge around mid-February, well before the recent snows, revealed that the Big and Little Salt Marshes had begun filling in. Standing atop the Observation Tower this past Monday evening, I was amazed at how the Little Salt Marsh had rebounded. It now hosts numerous species of ducks and other waterfowl. Despite a brisk northerly wind, I had to stand a gaze across the marsh for several minutes, enjoying the many evidences of re-birth.
If you enjoy witnessing sheer volume of birds, the next few weeks will be a good time to visit the refuge. As always, sunset and sunrise are the best times to plan your arrival.
A March 3 waterfowl survey revealed almost 30,000 ducks currently at the refuge, with northern pintail being the most prolific at approximately 20,000. About 4,500 geese inhabited the waters of Quivira this past Sunday, with Snow and Ross’ Goose topping the total at 2,000. Sandhill Cranes were also well represented in the survey, with approximately 15,000 counted. Also, three Bald Eagles have been seen at the refuge, with a good possibility that one pair is nesting.
Thanks to the recent snows, coupled with the resumed winter flow of Rattlesnake Creek, Quivira National Wildlife can reclaim its status as one of the crown jewels for migrating waterfowl in Kansas. Hopefully, with forecasts for more precipitation this coming weekend, the marshes and wetland units throughout the refuge will be further recharged, and the birds will have a place to rest and revive throughout the spring amidst the great migration northward.